Eating Disorders Families Australia (EDFA) welcomes the Federal Government’s decision to fund a $1.7 million program designed to help carers better support a loved one through recovery, while also maintaining their own wellbeing.
The Federal Government today announced three-year funding for EDFA’s Fill The Gap program, which will provide free, one-on-one counselling and lived-experience peer support to carers to give them the tools and strategies they need to better support a loved one through eating disorder recovery.
The Fill The Gap service will be provided online, making it available to carers in remote and rural areas throughout Australia as well as in more populated areas.
A recent poll of EDFA members found more than 50% of carers would neglect their own mental wellbeing, preferring to seek treatment for their loved one. This is despite research that shows better outcomes can be achieved when carers seek independent support for themselves, particularly if that support is based on lived experience.
“EDFA is grateful the Federal Government has recognised the important – we would argue, crucial – role of carers in achieving eating disorder recovery and the need to strengthen the carers’ own wellbeing for what is typically a long and exhausting journey,” EDFA Executive Director Jane Rowan said.
“This carer-designed support service will ensure that carers can receive relevant and valuable support without delay regardless of where they are based geographically.”
EDFA has recognised the need for individual counselling and peer support for carers through its regular online support groups that address a range of needs for carers of those with an eating disorder. EDFA members also have repeatedly called for a one-on-one advice and counselling service in the organisation’s feedback surveys.
“It would be appreciated if there was a mentor available to me, perhaps some kind of support service, to have on an ongoing basis to help guide us in supporting our loved ones. It’s exhausting and we are out of our depth,” one carer said in EDFA’s December 2022 Carer Experience Survey.
Another said in EDFA’s May 2023 Survey: “I would have loved a peer-parent mentor in the very beginning – someone who could answer my questions and guide me.”
EDFA is the only national eating disorder organisation focussing solely on carers and families of those living with an eating disorder. Established in 2016, EDFA currently has more than 3,000 members and has helped thousands of carers and families over the years through its support, education, and advocacy programs.
Ms Rowan is available for further comment on 0408 780 292 or via firstname.lastname@example.org